Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products, and articles are reviewed by healthcare professionals for medical accuracy. You can read more about our verification process here . We may receive commissions for purchases made through the links we select.
Toenail fungus is a common fungal infection that often begins after the nail rash spreads. In a mild form, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail bed. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow wild, hardening the nails and spreading to other toes .
The fungus often begins in the shape of a sports foot between the toes or on the feet. At this stage, the yeast infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medications. But Shari Lipner, MD , a board-certified dermatologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital / Weill Cornell Medicine, told Get Meds Info that toenail fungus is difficult to treat because of how slowly the nails grow. "The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail and the more affected the nails are, the more difficult it is to treat the nails, even with effective treatments," she says.
Early diagnosis of a yeast infection is the key to effective treatment. Dr. Lipner recommends consulting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it becomes too severe.
These are some of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus remedies on the market.
Toenail fungus can start out as a mild irritation, but it can spread and turn into something much more serious. "If left untreated over time, more and more nails become covered with thick yellowish-white residue, making pedicure unmanageable," says Orit Markowitz, MD , founder and CEO of OptiSkin Treatment Center in New York. .
That is why it is so important to treat the fungus early and often. If you are looking for an antifungal treatment that can solve multiple problems, we recommend Terbinafine Hydrochloride Antifungal Cream (see on Amazon ). If you are looking for a remedy to combat fungal growth under your nails, we recommend Fungi Nail Antifungal Ointment (see on Amazon ).
What to look for when treating toenail fungus
Toenail fungus, if left untreated, can be a serious problem with treatment and will greatly affect the medications you need. If your toenails are thick, yellowish, and have not been treated for a long time, this may indicate that you need a prescription medication or need the help of a board-certified dermatologist.
Dr. Lipner says toenail fungus starts in athlete's foot. "It starts with a rash on the foot and spreads to the toenails," she says. Treating mycosis is different from treating toenail fungus, so pay attention to the location of the problem on your foot. For fungal infections, you can treat the problem with over-the-counter antifungal ointments, sprays, and powders.
Zinc Undecylenate and Undecylenic Acid are FDA approved ingredients for the treatment of toenail fungus. Also, if you seek the help of a dermatologist, they will most likely prescribe drugs from the azole family. "The compound interferes with the synthesis of the fungus' cell membrane," says Dr. Lipner, which essentially kills the fungus.
Treatments for toenail fungus can take many forms, but oral, topical, and homeopathic remedies are most often used to treat toenail fungus.
- Oral administration: Oral medications have been shown to work, but they take time to do. 'Lamisil also has the lowest side effect profile of any oral antifungal drug and acts as a fungicidal agent that kills the fungus by blocking its ability to' breathe 'or produce the oxygen molecules it needs to survive, ”says Orit Markowitz, MD. But there are several conditions that can deny people the right to oral antifungal medications. The same comorbidities, including chronic kidney failure (on dialysis) and kidney transplants, immunodeficiency disorders, diabetes, cancer, and peripheral arterial disease that make a person more susceptible to nail fungus. feet, also increase the risk of side effects when taking medications.
- Topical Application: Topical treatments (such as Amorolfine and Cyclopirox) can help with minor toenail fungus. They cause fewer and less serious side effects. But they find it difficult to penetrate the nail plate, so the treatment lasts longer and the effectiveness is low. "Azole antifungals like JUBLIA inhibit fungal elements involved in the biosynthesis of critical fungal elements like fungal cell membranes," says Dr. Markowitz. He adds that "topical treatments can be effective, but require long and expensive regimens without an established method to predict the outcome." This could mean 52 weeks of daily topical treatment.
- Natural / Homeopathic – Natural preventative measures can be effective, but once the fungus has developed, the best option is a research-proven, FDA-approved oral antifungal agent. Garlic has antifungal properties and can provide some relief when used in a foot bath. "Since topical prescription drugs require at least 1 year of daily use to work in only 2/3 of mild to moderate cases, it is difficult to recommend an unapproved natural treatment," says Dr. Markowitz. Keep in mind that it can take up to 18 months to fully heal. Furthermore, studies show that fungal nail infections cannot be cured in 20-25 percent of treated patients.
Frequently asked questions
Fighting a fungus requires time to take antifungal medications . It is recommended to apply most products twice a day for one to two weeks. If by this time the condition has not improved, see your doctor for treatment recommendations.
The active ingredients in most antifungal agents are quite powerful. This means that they are capable of causing burning, tingling, swelling, irritation, redness, bumps, and other skin irritations. If this occurs during use, consult your doctor. But most people can safely use antifungal creams and gels with medicinal and calming effects.
What the experts say
The most common manifestation of toenail fungus is a white / yellow nail discoloration that is thick and full of yellow-white keratin residue. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail and the more affected the nails are, the more difficult it is to treat the nails even with effective treatments. " —Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin Treatment Center in New York.
Why trust Get Drug Information?
As a seasoned health writer, Daniel Söllner knows how important it is to find the exact product that meets your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of health and medical experts, reviewing dozens of products. Your experience and expertise in the field work together to help readers like you find the best products for their everyday lives.
Additional reporting for this Jennifer Nayde story
For more than 10 years, Jennifer Nayde has researched products, interviewed experts, researched ingredients thoroughly, and researched research and claims to help readers like you understand what works in your particular environment. Each product in this article has been selected based on medical advice, published research, and real-life customer reviews.